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    The "Ute Chieftain" by Heiser - Keyston, Doubtless Among the Rarest, Most Beautiful, and Most Intrinsically Valuable Western Saddles Ever Produced. This being possibly the finest example known of the handful of specimens ever crafted by the Heiser - Keyston Co., circa 1950. The origin of these magnificent silver parade saddles can be traced to the nineteenth century vaqueros in California. Wealthy landowners decorated their saddles with ornate silver trim, complex stitching, and elaborately carved leather work. Heiser - Keyston was among the top craftsmen based shops in the mid-twentieth century, and the largest manufacturers of saddlery on the west coast. The "Ute Chieftain" has been characterized by collectors as "the kind of saddle you think of when you think of silver saddles" and was described by Heiser - Keyston in their catalog as "the finest ever made" and "the acme of sterling silver saddlery". The description of the saddle warranted two full pages in their catalog, with the salient details as follows: "...made of the finest select leather, fully hand carved. The cantle, horn and swells are completely encased in heavy hand engraved sterling silver. Massive 21" taps are made with solid sterling silver fronts. Miniature 14K gold Indian heads are overlaid on every other sterling silver square that rims the saddle and taps. Not even the smallest detail is overlooked. Here is truly a saddle masterpiece." Additionally, on this example, the top of the horn is overlaid with a large deep relief, 14K gold Indian head, of the same form as the smaller heads used throughout the saddle. Every piece of silver is either embossed or elegantly and profusely engraved with floral and scroll motifs.

    The massive breast collar features large relief Indian heads on each side, with a 14K gold Indian head, identical to the one found on the horn, affixed as a martingale plate. Small 14K gold Indian heads are overlaid on every other square, continuing the overall artistic theme. The bridle and nose piece are also covered with engraved and embossed silver squares, the rosettes being deep relief Indian heads, embossed silver buckles. The reins are decorated with 1" silver ferrules spaced at 1" intervals.

    The saddle is nicely marked in 2" embossed ovals on each skirt "Heiser - Keyston/ Denver - San Francisco".

    Superb overall condition. All leather supple and about perfect, with all of the original finish. All stitching tight. Missing just four silver squares on one of the diamond shaped drops on the bottom of the right skirt, and two diamonds on each skirt, all easily replaced, else complete and tight.

    Without question one of the most stunning showpieces we've ever offered in an Americana auction, and bound to be the center piece of any Western Americana collection. A rare and exciting opportunity for the advanced collector, depicting the epitome of the romance of "Wild West" culture. This lot requires 3rd party shipping.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2010
    22nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 0
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,438

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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